WBC heavyweight titleholder Bermane Stiverne (24-1, 21 KOs) has trained to hurt, not just knockout, undefeated, mandatory challenger Deontay Wilder (32-0, 32 KOs), January 17 in his first defense of the vacant title he captured last May with his sixth-round technical knocked of Chris Arreola (35-4).
The 12-round Stiverne-Wilder championship fight headlines “Return To Glory,” co-promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Don King Productions, airing live on Showtime Championship Boxing (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) from MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Much of the fight hype has surrounded the trash-talking Wilder, the 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist from Alabama, and his bid to become the first American to hold a portion of the world heavyweight title since Shannon Briggs more than eight years ago.
“No, it (Wilder’s trash talk) doesn’t bother me,” Stiverne said. “I’m focused on beating him. I’m not going to just knock him out, I’m going to hurt that kid. His job, I guess, is to make himself big by talking; I feel like I’m fighting Muhammad Ali (Stiverne joked). He’s a great promoter, better than his or my promoter. There’s a lot of hype about him and that’s great for our fight because it’ll come down to everybody knowing who beat him after the fight.”
Wilder’s critics question the quality of his 32 opponents and the fact he hasn’t fought past four rounds. Stiverne, though, is happy to let his fists do the talking when he faces the 6′ 7″ Wilder in the ring.
“I don’t say anything about who he’s fought or him not going past four rounds,” Stiverne explained. “Those questions should be directed to him. I really don’t care. I’m going to chop him down and, if those things are factors, it’ll show in our fight. I’m just doing my job. I’ve been down and came back to knockout my opponent. I’ve also won 12 rounds fights. I know I still have power in later rounds.”